August 20, 2020
USMCA Panel Discussion to Take Place in Two Weeks
ABI is proud to host a virtual panel discussion on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Tuesday, Sept. 1 from 1:30-3 p.m. Officials from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Department of Commerce will comprise the panel. They will discuss the importance of the trade agreement, particularly to the State of Iowa as Mexico and Canada are by far Iowa’s top two trading partners, and talk about how the state’s businesses and agricultural producers will benefit from the new accord. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the agreement and how it will help Iowa. You can register here.

Policy Committees Finish Work; Legislative Committee to Meet Next Week
ABI’s five public policy committees have now concluded their work following the meetings of the Economic Growth and Tax Committees this week. The committees provide policy recommendations for the following year as ABI’s public policy team lobbies on behalf of members at the Capitol. The next step in the policy process is for the Legislative Committee to consider the recommendations. This meeting is scheduled to take place next Wednesday. The Board of Directors will approve the 2021 policies at their board meeting in September. ABI would like to thank all of the members who took part in the policy development process.

Iowa’s Application for Lost Wages Assistance Program Approved
Last Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) signed off on the State of Iowa’s request to take advantage of the Lost Wages Assistance Program recently authorized by President Trump through an executive order he issued on Aug. 8. The program provides additional unemployment benefits to qualified claimants. Iowans whose unemployment is due to the pandemic, and who are eligible for at least $100 in weekly benefits, will qualify for an additional $300 per week, which is retroactive to Aug. 1. The move by the Trump administration is seen as a measure to provide short-term relief to those who are unemployed while Congress continues to negotiate a larger coronavirus relief package. Read the governor's news release.  

Initial Unemployment Claims Creep Up; Trust Fund Payments Continue Decline
Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) announced there were 6,544 initial unemployment claims filed by individuals for the week of Aug. 9-15. There was approximately $23.4 million paid out of the state unemployment trust fund, which is about $3.6 million less than the week prior. The number of continuing unemployment claims was 83,610, which is about 8,500 claims fewer than last week. The top sectors that saw the most initial claims filed included manufacturing (1,664); those not identified by industry including the self-employed, independent contractors, etc. (887); and health care and social assistance (608).

EPC Approves Water Use Permit Fee for FY21
The Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) convened their monthly meeting this past Tuesday and made a decision concerning the annual water use permit fee proposal from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR held a meeting with stakeholders concerning this issue prior to the EPC meeting on July 30. It was decided that the DNR would propose the fee be $95 for FY21, which is the same as it was last year. The permit is required for any person or entity who utilizes 25,000 gallons or more of water during a single day during the year. The EPC approved the DNR’s proposal unanimously.
Registration Open: Advanced Manufacturing Conference
Join us for Iowa’s largest celebration of advanced manufacturing—happening online for the first time ever. This conference offers everything you need—the insights, innovation and inspiration—to help you take your operation to the next level. See the agenda and register now.

The keynote speaker will be Matthew Lamons, an artificial intelligence (AI) industry influencer, a seasoned business leader and an author of multiple books on deep learning and AI. Additional highlights include a panel discussion with women leaders in manufacturing and two tracks of wisdom-filled workshops.
College Students and Recent College Graduates Complete the ABI Foundation’s Leadership Iowa University Program
Last Monday started the ABI Foundation's weeklong college-to-career program, Leadership Iowa University (virtual for 2020). After just three hours of ‘as intended,’ the unexpected derecho hit Iowa and affected many of our participants. Despite the difficulties, the collective consensus was to “continue on.” We thank all the speakers and Iowa professionals who adapted alongside us and provided the statewide perspective of how each can achieve their personal and professional goals. This opportunity would not be possible without our presenting sponsor, Grinnell Mutual. Join us in congratulating these young professionals and emerging leaders on their exemplary perseverance and participation! Class list >
Do Something to Combat the Stress of Poor Remote Work Stations
Jason Horras, DPT
Vice-President and Director of Occupational Health
21st Century Rehab

As you read this “From the Desk of” blog post, think about how your current “desk” or “work environment” looks. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employees to work from home instead of at their normal place of employment. This presents many unique challenges and stresses to the body and mind.

Often, working from home is not conducive to the best ergonomic set-up, with makeshift desks and workspaces. Access to proper work areas can be limited and many employees expected the initial change to working from home to be short-lived so they made do with whatever space was available.

Now more than four months since moving to remote work, the outlook of returning to normal office workspaces in the next few weeks is uncertain. If improper workstations–thought to be temporary–haven’t been addressed, now is the time to make changes to prevent significant employee musculoskeletal aches and pains, headaches, and other physical and mental fatigue. Read more.
Unlocking Cash During COVID-19 Webinar Series
Join CLA for a complimentary webinar series that highlights hot topics, updates and helpful tips for finding tax savings opportunities and increasing cash flow during these unprecedented times. Each webinar is from 1-1:30 p.m.

  • Aug. 26 – Employer Incentives for Employee Retention
  • Sept. 2 – Utility Study and Sales Tax Reverse Audit
  • Sept. 9 – Cost Segregation, Qualified Improvement Property and R&D Credits
  • Sept. 16 – Telecommunications
  • Sept. 23 – NOL, Disaster Relief, 162(j), Refundable Credits, Inventory, COAT Tool

Virtual Leadership Workshop Set for Sept. 17
Are you ready to move from surviving to thriving again? Join The Team, Iowa EOS Implementers for a virtual, hands-on workshop focused on driving accountability, reigniting motivation and taking action. Learn about new sources of capital, how to get a grip on your business, how to lead change the human way and five foundational tools you can use immediately. Learn more.

Weitz Data Center Construction Project Continues with New Worker Safety Measures 
As construction continues on a data center project in Central Iowa, The Weitz Company is using new technology to help protect workers from hazards. MākuSafe, a safety technology and data analytics company located in West Des Moines, is equipping workers with wearable safety devices that record data to help safety managers predict and correct potential hazardous issues—including implementing measures to help manage concerns related to COVID-19. Read the full news release.

Disaster Resources Available from U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Our valued partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce want to make ABI members affected by the derecho aware of the following resources:
  • Disaster Help Desk for BusinessBusinesses and chambers can call 1-888-My-Biz-Help (888-692-4943) for direct support from disaster recovery experts. 
  • Resilience in a BoxThis resource guide, based on best practices, is designed to help educate business leaders on disaster preparedness and business resilience.
  • Disaster Recovery Quick Guides – Made possible by Shell, these guides have tailored tips for small businesses and chambers looking to prepare and recover.